Two women from New York City have been charged with conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction in the United States, according to a federal criminal complaint unsealed on Thursday.
Since at least August 2014, the defendants Asia Siddiqui and Noelle Velentzas have allegedly plotted to construct an explosive device for use in a terrorist attack on American soil, according to a statement released by the U.S. District Court in Brooklyn.
In their self-proclaimed effort to “make history”, the defendants researched numerous explosive precursors, said the statement, adding that investigation recently revealed that the defendants possessed propane gas tanks together with instructions from an online jihadist publication for transforming the tanks into explosive devices.
As alleged in the complaint, the defendants have repeatedly expressed their support for violent jihad.
More recently, Velentzas, who has characterized al-Qaida founder Osama Bin Laden as one of her heroes, declared that she and Siddiqui are “citizens of the Islamic State.”
If convicted, both defendants face a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
“We are committed to doing everything in our ability to detect, disrupt, and deter attacks by homegrown violent extremists,” stated U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Loretta Lynch.
“As alleged, the defendants in this case carefully studied how to construct an explosive device to launch an attack on the homeland. We remain firm in our resolve to hold accountable anyone who would seek to terrorize the American people, whether by traveling abroad to commit attacks overseas or by plotting here at home,” she said.
Lynch extended her appreciation to the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, which comprises a large number of federal, state, and local agencies from the region, as well as to the New York Police Department Intelligence Bureau, for their assistance in the investigation.
“Velentzas and Siddiqui are alleged to have researched how to construct bombs as part of their conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction on American soil,” said Assistant Attorney General John P. Carlin.
FBI Assistant Director in Charge Rodriguez stated, “The defendants allegedly plotted to wreak terror by creating explosive devices and even researching the pressure cooker bombs used during the Boston Marathon bombing.”
“We continue to pursue those who look to commit acts of terror and deter others who think they are beyond the reach of law enforcement,” he added. Enditem